Mumbai: Gaming and hospitality firm Delta Corp has hired Citigroup and UBS to evaluate possible investment in its business, a move that could potentially bring foreign players into the country’s small and restrictive gaming sector.
The process was at a “very preliminary” stage, the company said in a statement on Friday, without giving any details.
Earlier on Friday, the Economic Times reported that Delta Corp, the biggest casino operator in India, was in talks with some of the world’s leading hotel and casino operators, including MGM Resorts International to sell a stake.
US-based Caesars Entertainment, one of the world’s largest casino operators, was also among the firms Delta was talking to for investment in Delta’s hospitality and gaming division, the paper said, citing its founder, Jaydev Mody.
MGM and Caesars did not immediately respond to mails from Reuters for comment on the newspaper report and Mody could not immediately be reached for comment.
A spokesman for US-based MGM Resorts earlier this week told Reuters that the casino and resort operator was monitoring developments in India and would wait for a legal and regulatory structure that would allow it to invest in Asia’s third-largest economy.
In India, legal gambling is confined mainly to horse racing, while casinos are allowed only in a handful of areas, including the state of Goa, a popular resort destination.
The Indian government does not allow foreign direct investment in gaming or gambling.
However, Delta Corp, which owns three of the six gaming licences issued by the Goa government, said on its website it was the only Indian gaming company to have the government’s foreign investment promotion board approval and was, therefore, eligible for foreign participation in its business.
While Asia has been a hotbed for investment by global gaming operators in recent years, industry talk of potential investment opportunities in the region typically focuses on Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan and South Korea, not India.
Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire head of Las Vegas Sands Corp., which operates casinos in Macau and Singapore, has in the past expressed interest in India.